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Biological Waste (Biohazardous/RMW): Biohazardous waste that is infectious and termed Regulated Medical Waste or "RMW" is that which requires biological inactivation, in an approved manner, prior to final disposal and includes:

-Microorganisms (Risk Group 2 or higher and handled at BSL2 or higher)
-Human blood, blood components, fluids, unfixed organs, tissues and cell lines (primary and established)
-Non-Human Primate materials (cell lines)
-Products of Recombinant DNA or Synthetic Nucleic Acid experimentation as defined by the NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant DNA Molecules. See UVA's rDNA page for more information.
-Biotoxins* (with an LD 50 of less than 100 micrograms per kilogram of body weight in vertebrates) requiring BSL-2 containment
-Labware that is contaminated with any of the above
-All sharps** (needles, scalpels, lancets, suture needles, or materials able to puncture skin)
-Animal carcasses (both infected and uninfected carcasses are disposed of in the same manner)
-Cadaveric materials (contact EHS for information 434.982.4911)

* Note that biotoxin waste SHOULD NOT be labeled with the Biohazard label as it is hazardous chemical waste; EHS Biosafety and Hazardous Waste personnel collaborate to provide guidance on the inactivation (e.g., autoclaving or chemical) of toxins. See Biotoxins for more detail.

**Waste placed in sharps containers do not require inactivation prior to disposal.

Other Biological Wastes: These are biological wastes that are not known to be pathogenic to humans and are not regulated by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). These materials may be disposed in the regular waste stream without prior treatment; however, researchers should consider autoclaving or chemical inactivation prior to final disposal based on risk assessment and applicable grant or permit expectations. These materials include:

-Risk Group 1 Microorganisms (Materials handled at BSL-1 and not known to cause disease in healthy humans.)
-Tissue culture other than Human or Non-Human Primate (rodent, avian, insect, plant, etc.)


One of the most effect methods for the decontamination of biohazardous or infectious material is by steam sterilization. When autoclaving, specific requirements must be met in order to ensure proper inactivation and include:

-Use of appropriate cycle time and temperature
-Use of monthly validation (biological indicator)
-Use of autoclave log

Specific Requirements for Decontamination by Autoclaving are provided in the IBC’s Policy on Autoclaving.

Recommended "Autoclaving Safely" training is provided courtesy of EHS Biosafety and is available online here (log-in).

Contaminated Material Containers (CMCs) and Sharps Containers Program

SOLID biohazardous waste may be disposed of directly into a Contaminated Materials Container (CMC) where it will be removed by EHS or licensed waste contractor.


  • MUST be lined with a red bag.
  • MUST be correctly assembled and taped.
  • ALWAYS use Packing tape. Packing tape is required!
  • NEVER use other types of tape. Only Packing tape will keep the CMC securely closed during shipping & handling.
  • When the CMC is full, the top must be taped (or tied) closed and properly (completely) labeled with the name of the person generating the CMC, building, room number, phone extension, date and waste type (e.g., cell culture).
-EHS provides 4 cu. ft. CMCs and bags for all research laboratories free of charge.
-Rooms will be stocked regularly to promote responsible consumption of supplies.
-Housekeepers will pick up the CMCs (taping and labeling remain the same).
-Weight limit of 30 lbs. (do not overfill, see below).

If your CMC is improperly prepared or too heavy, Housekeepers will not remove it but will notify you by placing the following pink label on the CMC. You MUST take the corrective action noted to facilitate removal of your CMC.

ATTN: Your CMC box was not picked up because:
X Improperly packaged/labeled
X Overweight (30 lb. weight limit) 
Questions? Call EHS at 434.982.4911

CMC Pick Up locations

Notice: When using a lockbox to access the door key, return the key to the lockbox and scramble the code when finished to maintain the chain of custody for biological waste.

Aurbach - Room 1241
MR4 - Loading Dock Supply Cabinet
MR5 - Room G037C
MR6 - Room G053
Pinn - Room G240
Snyder - Room 171C

CMC Drop Off locations

Notice: If > 30 lbs., laboratorians are responsible for drop off, otherwise CMCs will be removed by Building Services Housekeepers.

Aurbach - Room 1241
Pinn - Room G240
MR4 - Outside Bin (Loading dock/ramp outside vivarium)
MR6 - Room G053
Pinn - Room G240
Snyder - Room 171C

Other Locations not listed above

Gilmer, Chemistry & Other Academic buildings (outside the Medical Center) - use this online form (log-in) or call EHS at 434.982.4911, to schedule the pick up of RMW waste and delivery of empty containers.
West Complex/Multistory: Research labs in the Multistory or Old Medical School Building are provided red step-on containers and sharps containers. Regulated Medical Waste is picked up (both red bags and sharps containers) by Hospital Environmental Services housekeepers. If you have questions, please contact Hospital Environmental Services at 924-5162.

Contaminated Material Container (CMC)
Full View

Other Examples:

Biological Waste Handling and Disposal

The table below is designed to aid you in determining how to collect, decontaminate, and/or dispose of your waste. BSL-2 indicates biohazardous or regulated RMW waste and BSL-1 indicates "other" biological waste not known to be pathogenic or regulated.

Type of Waste Biosafety Level Collection & Containers Decontamination Method Disposal
Liquids BSL-1

Use autoclaveable, leak proof plastic (see IBC Autoclaving Policy)

Use double containment (pan)

May use glass if necessary

Not required


Autoclave/Chemically Inactivate
Sink (down the drain flushed w/ water)

Use autoclaveable, leak proof plastic (see IBC Autoclaving Policy)

Use double containment (pan) labeled with Biohazard label

Autoclaving required


Chemically Inactivate (preferred method) with disinfectant--add bleach to make 10% solution
Sink (down the drain flushed w/ water)
Solids BSL-1

May be collected in regular waste/trash receptacles

Autoclaving recommended using clear bags

Not required


Autoclave/Chemical Inactivation
Place in regular trash
BSL-2 Autoclave in clear bags placed in double containment (pan) with Biohazard label Autoclaving required Place in regular trash
Place in CMC No decon; tape and label appropriately Place in lab for pick up by Housekeeping
Sharps BSL-1 or BSL-2

Sharps (needles, lancets, suture needles, blades, scalpels) MUST be placed in a sharps container

Other sharp-like materials in a form capable of puncturing skin (e.g., broken, contaminated glass) is placed in a sharps container
No decon; close container when 2/3 full

Disposed of by EHS
Online Pickup Request


Animal carcasses* Non-Biohazardous
Place in opaque bag

Return to vivarium freezer

(Radioactive must be picked up by EHS)
Disposed of by EHS

Place in red bag or opaque bag labeled with the Biohazard label

May place contaminated disposable items in CMC
Return to vivarium freezer Disposed of by EHS
Other animal wastes (soiled bedding, cages, etc.) Non-Biohazardous Place in opaque/paper bags Return to vivarium designated drop off location Disposed of by CCM
BSL-2 Place in clear autoclave bags with Biohazard label

Autoclaving required


Return to vivarium designated ABSL-2 drop off location
Disposed of by CCM

* Animal carcasses or wastes that contain hazardous chemicals must be handled as indicated in the ACUC protocol. For general information on carcass disposal see this ACUC policy. Radioactive animal carcasses and associated wastes must be labeled (radioactive warning tape) and collected by EHS Radiation Safety. For more information on radioactive animal carcasses click here.

Cadaveric Materials

Human cadavers and recognizable human body parts require special handling. Please contact EHS Biosafety at 434.982.4911 for guidance.

"Hospital Like" Waste

When used in the research lab, these items can be disposed of in the regular waste stream as long as they are void of biohazards and/or hazardous chemicals. Examples of this material include:

IV tubing and bags without blood, hazardous chemicals or sharps
Emptied containers without blood: (pleurovacs, hemovacs, urine or stool cups, Foley and ostomy bags, bedpans, urinals, emesis basins, suction canisters and tubing, etc)

For hospital-like waste not used in research (e.g., for patient care), please refer to the Medical Center's "Where Does all that Garbage Go" poster for appropriate disposal.

Broken Glassware, Waste Laboratory Glassware (WLG) 

If they DO NOT contain or ARE NOT contaminated with Radioactive Material (any amount), Chemicals (more than a trace amount) or Biohazardous Material (any amount), then these waste materials are Waste Laboratory Glassware (WLG).

Waste Laboratory Glassware:

  • Place into any ordinary cardboard box lined with a regular trash bag.
  • Once full, close the bag by tying or taping the bag closed then tape box closed using packing tape (other types of tape do not keep the box securely closed during handling).
  • Apply a WLG label (see photo below) to the box top.
  • These waste materials will be treated as regular trash and should be carried directly to the trash receptacle or dumpster outside of your building.
  • Call EHS at 434.982.4911 for free WLG labels or use this online form to order labels (log-in)


For CMC operations and pick up issues, contact Derek Snapp at dcs7e@virginia.edu or 434.982.4911.

Regulatory questions, contact Jennifer Kershner at jmw4qs@virginia.edu or 434.982.4911.

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